My Detachment by Tracy Kidder
A Memoir

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Synopsis

My Detachment is a war story like none you have ever read before, an unromanticized portrait of a young man coming of age in the controversial war that defined a generation. In an astonishingly honest, comic, and moving account of his tour of duty in Vietnam, master storyteller Tracy Kidder writes for the first time about himself. This extraordinary memoir is destined to become a classic.

Kidder was an ROTC intelligence officer, just months out of college and expecting a stateside assignment, when his orders arrived for Vietnam. There, lovesick, anxious, and melancholic, he tried to assume command of his detachment, a ragtag band of eight more-or-less ungovernable men charged with reporting on enemy radio locations.

He eventually learned not only to lead them but to laugh and drink with them as they shared the boredom, pointlessness, and fear of war. Together, they sought a ghostly enemy, homing in on radio transmissions and funneling intelligence gathered by others. Kidder realized that he would spend his time in Vietnam listening in on battle but never actually experiencing it.

With remarkable clarity and with great detachment, Kidder looks back at himself from across three and a half decades, confessing how, as a young lieutenant, he sought to borrow from the tragedy around him and to imagine himself a romantic hero. Unrelentingly honest, rueful, and revealing, My Detachment gives us war without heroism, while preserving those rare moments of redeeming grace in the midst of lunacy and danger. The officers and men of My Detachment are not the sort of people who appear in war movies–they are the ones who appear only in war, and they are unforgettable.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Tracy Kidder

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TRACY KIDDER graduated from Harvard University and studied at the University of Iowa. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. The author of My Detachment, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine, Kidder lives in Massachusetts and Maine. MICHAEL FRENCH has published twenty books, including fiction for adults and young adults, biographies, and art criticism. He has adapted many acclaimed adult works for young people. Michael French divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
 
Published September 6, 2005 by Random House. 208 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for My Detachment

Kirkus Reviews

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A departure for Pulitzer Prize–winner Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains, 2003, etc.): a memoir recounting his time in Vietnam as a green lieutenant turned world-weary REMF.

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The New York Times

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In Tracy Kidder's case, that sense of dividing into separate selves appears to have been caused by the shock of being Tracy Kidder.

Sep 25 2005 | Read Full Review of My Detachment: A Memoir

AV Club

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In 1970, when Tracy Kidder came home from Vietnam, he wrote a novel about the war called Ivory Fields.

Nov 23 2005 | Read Full Review of My Detachment: A Memoir

USA Today

In June 1968, Tracy Kidder began a year as a second lieutenant in Vietnam commanding, "in a matter of speaking," a detachment of eight enlisted men whose job was to trace the radio transmissions of an elusive enemy.My Detachment, a title with a double meaning, is a sobering, honest account of his...

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Deseret News

Because so many men are afflicted with "The Warrior Myth" — the manufactured need to be a military hero — they are often caught making up an illustrious war record for themselves, sometimes even if they didn't serve in the military.

Jan 29 2006 | Read Full Review of My Detachment: A Memoir

Bookmarks Magazine

Kidder, author of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning The Soul of the New Machine, recounts his tour of duty as a naïve, Harvard-educated Army lieutenant with a communications detachment in Vietnam.

Oct 15 2007 | Read Full Review of My Detachment: A Memoir

Austin Chronicle

What Kidder realizes is that however much it might conceal a lie, sometimes "the hint of a terrible war story was the best war story of all."

Sep 16 2005 | Read Full Review of My Detachment: A Memoir

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